Stradale Welkom Ferrari-Lamborghini 1-2

Son and father, Charl and Harry Arangies brought their Stradale Ferrari 360 Challenge home to an unlikely Mopar Six Hours of the Goldfields South African Endurance Championship race victory in Welkom on Saturday. 

The Vanderbijlpark duo endured a brilliant race of attrition to lead Stradale Racing teammates, Simon Murray and Gavin Cronje’s Lamborghini Gallardo GT3 home by two laps, with Durban crew Mike McLoughlin and Mark Owens putting their Backdraft Cobra onto the podium ahead of teammates Tony Martin, Duncan Day and Piet Bredenhann in a similar car to make it a 1-2-3-4 for GT cars.

Mike Verrier and Wayne Jardine fought back to fifth to redeem some glory for the troubled Fantastic Racing and take Sportscar honours, while Bradley Scorer, Theo van Vuuren and Darren Winterboer scored a brilliant sixth as they took saloon car honours in their brand new Arnold Chatz Alfa Romeo Giulietta.

The race had fans on the edges of their seats throughout the first hour as a three-car battle played out when Marcel Angel’s Viper overcame Johan Engelbrecht’s Juno to move into an early lead, but Gavin Cronje soon hustled his Lamborghini Gallardo ahead as the three tussled, soon catching the first lapped traffic.

Meanwhile a fourth car — Danish driver Michael Jensen’s cycle-fendered Formula Renault single seater scythed though the field from the back of the grid to make it a four-car tussle, before Jensen one by one picked the leaders off to move to the front, But not before Cronje made him work very hard for that honour. That left Jensen leading Cronje, Angel and Engelbrecht and the Shelby Nissans of Doug Macdonald and Mike Verrier.

The second hour saw 15-year old Bloemfontein kart sensation Stuart White take over the super-quick Formula Renault, but while the hare ran away at the front, it seemed to need fuel more often, letting Engelbrecht slip into the lead for a lap after White stopped a second time in an hour.

Cronje sat just 10 seconds behind Engelbrecht as a game of strategy came into play, but both suffered slow pitstops, while Craig Jarvis sat fourth in the Viper, a lap clear of Arangies’ Ferrari and Kevin Finneran’s Shelby-Nissan, while the tin-top battle continued to be fought out by the Alfa Romeos of Darren Winterboer and Bernard Vertenren and Trevor Bland and Jonathan Konig’s VW Golf GTis.

Then Cronje’s Lamborghini ran out of fuel and had to be towed to the pits while White drove away out front, a couple of laps clear of  Carruthers in the Juno, Angel and Arangies. Drama struck again as Mark Lauth pitted the dominant Formula Renault to rectify a gear selection glitch and allow the Adcock Juno into the lead from the Viper, the Ferrari and Simon Murray racing back into contention with the Lamborghini.

Fantastic Racing’s woes continued as its Shelby duo slipped down the field to allow Backdraft pair Duncan Day and Mark Owens into sixth and seventh, with the tin-top-leading Alfa Romeo Giulietta next up as the race seemed to have settled down again into the fifth hour. 

Then the Juno retired from a three-lap lead after its gearbox cried enough to allow the Viper to move ahead, but it also coasted to a halt with a gearbox failure and the Renault stopped again, leaving Arangies leading Cronje, the Backdrafts and Verrier back up to fifth in the Shelby with Bradley Scorer’s Alfa Romeo Giulia a fine sixth.

The troubled Formula Renault was back up to speed and soon picked off the Alfa and the Backdrafts to run third with a half-hour to run, although it was soon back in the box for good, as an intriguing scenario played out between the five cars fighting for third as seventeen of the 30 starters drove to the finish.

Charl and birthday dad Harry Arangies Ferrari won overall, taking class Y and GT honours in the process, two laps clear of Murray and Cronje’s Stradale Lamborghini and the Backdrafts of McLoughlin and Owens; Martin and Day. Verier and Jardine were fifth and first sportscar home to win Class T ahead of the Scorer/Winterboer/van Vuuren Alfa, which won the saloon category and Class V.

Seventh went to another giant killer — second in Sportscars and Class R winners Gerald Wright, Peter Van Vuuren and Revel Crossland in the Ztorm Racing VSP 2000 ahead of the Doug MacDonald/Ken Finneran Fantastic Shelby-Nissan and George Smalberger, Trevor Bland and Heinz Bose’s Shield Volkswagen Golf GTI and Class S winners, Steve Pickering and Mike Altona in the venerable Classic Motorsport Porsche 910.

Fred, Jonathan and Stuart Konig’s VW Golf GTi took Class A Honours in eleventh from class rivals Mike Schmidt and Bruce Avern-Taplin’s Bateleur Toyota Corolla, Wayne Lotter and Steve Truter’s Sasolburg Autobody BMW M3 and Bryan Heine, Kelvin Reynolds and Hennie Crous in the HeineSport VSP 2000, while Alex and Andre Johnson (Executive Audi S4) Audi, Dewald Brummer and Bevan Williams (MAD Fuchs VW Golf 1 GTi) and Dean and Steve Venter and Graham Vos (Nash) struggled home to claim the final three places.

The Mopar six hours of the Goldfields proved to be a brilliant race of speed, intrigue and reliability and if that is how the season started, one can only look forward to the next six rounds.The second round of the Mopar South African Endurance Championship is the Cape Three Hour at Killarney on 8 April.